Why I Kidnapped My Friends

I grew up in a predominantly white, rural town. Some people identified as Latino or Hispanic, but in every single class that I was in, whether it be dance, school, gymnastics, or karate, I was always the darkest one. There would be another Black person occasionally, and it wouldn’t be until I was able to explore more around town that I finally saw the rest of the community. The ones with darker skin like mine were, quite literally, segregated on the other side of town. None of the people I hung out with even knew about it. My classmates would even freak out when we got another Black boy in class.

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Finding Courage

How Briefly Getting Lost In The Wilderness Made Me Realize We Should Be More Like Ron Weasley

I heard rustling from the freely growing shrubbery that lined the dirt trail, and then I saw it crash from seemingly nowhere about 20 feet ahead of my trekking poles. The crash sounded like the moment a riding horse shifts from a trot to a full gallop. I could hear the sheer power of the hooves and the weight of the large animal as it slammed onto the narrow ledge of the rock face several thousand feet above the last human I saw. The doe quickly rolled from where it landed on its side and shot up before staring in my direction. I froze. The deer froze, and we made eye contact for what seemed like a full 20 seconds.

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How To Be Alone On Top Of A Mountain

I was alone for the first time in the woods. I went onto the trail without a sign from anyone around, but on the way back, I saw a pile of fresh bear scat in the middle of the trail. I first heard noises behind the trees off to the distance and then saw the bushes move. “Of course I would get mauled by a bear the very first time I decided to hike by myself,” or so I thought, and so I picked up my hiking pace three-fold and made it out of the heavily-bear-populated mountains with a story. That was a little over a year ago.

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The Extroverted Introvert In The Springtime

I didn’t realize how social I really was until the order was passed down by California’s state Governor to stay home. Stay home? I didn’t remember two consecutive days in my entire life, except for the times I was really sick when I stayed inside of a building. I was always outside, either running, driving, or hiking. When I got bored, I went outdoors until the day that I couldn’t.

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What Is The Greatest Issue Facing Humankind?

Before you place yourself into a particular box and select a descriptive word or an identifying trait, there is a group that everyone falls under—we all, for the most part, live on planet earth. Even the astronauts floating around happily above our colorful and protective sky have to come back down to the third rock from this solar system’s sun eventually.

I spent the latter part of 2019, and some portions of 2020 before I may or may not have inconveniently passed away from a bad case of the flu, interviewing people who wore their passion for mother nature proudly. I tried to get in contact with individuals who used their voices to help and defend the only habitable planet that we can reach within our lifetime. However, I also heard from other advocates about how certain issues are more important than others.

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The Importance of Communication In Different Spaces

Why understanding a group before joining is so important

Not everyone who joins a specific group falls under the descriptive category. In fact, I occasionally invite non-people of color to Black Girl Trekkin hikes. Some tag along excitedly, while others may shy away from the invitation. I love including people in spaces, but I make sure that the people I invite on hikes are respectful and take the time to learn about the group and the people who are in it.

I try to check my new messages and requests across all the social media accounts that I regularly manage for the groups and organizations I lead at least once a day. I watch as reaction emoji’s trickle in like the babbling brooks I love to post on my own Instagram stories. The majority of the time the messages are very positive. I’ll usually see polite questions about upcoming outdoor events and comments on how beautiful the images that I have shared from the hiking community. However, sometimes, I’ll get questions about whether people who identify as men can join the hikes that I lead for the Los Angeles chapter of the women’s group, Hiker Babes and I have to pause for a moment.

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Episode 4 | Outdoor Defense with Nicole Snell

What do you do when you’re all alone in the woods and there is someone trying to grab you? In this episode, I sit down with Nicole Snell, adventuresofnik on Instagram, and her work joining her love of nature and her passion for teaching self-defense by creating the OutDoor Defense series.

ACCESSIBILITY

You can turn the Closed Captioning on the YouTube video of the podcast below.

Why I Became The Leader Of A Hiking Group

If you asked me a year ago if I would be the ambassador for the Los Angeles chapter of the international hiking group, Hiker Babes, whose mission is to unite women who share a passion for the outdoors into a community, I would have laughed. It’s not as though I haven’t led such as groups of writers, students, coworkers, and such before. However, I always left trail scouting and leading hikes up to the other hiking groups that I am also a member — especially the group, Black Girls Trekkin.’

It was with the group Black Girls Trekkin that I first attempted to do the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. Before I was hiking with a team of badass women who climb mountains, I never would have thought that I would have been able to hike as long and as far as we have on some of these hikes. I think the two biggest lessons I learned was that, one: AllTrails is a tool to use, and two: with the help and advice of my wonderful and very supportive friends at Black Girls Trekkin’ I can totally lead a group of women out into nature safely.

It was also all my other outdoorsy friends that have motivated to do incredibly creative and intricate things such as a podcast. It was by first getting back into running outdoors and ultimately just returning to nature in college and hiking with other nature-loving people that have led me into this life of a wild mountain woman.  

So, when people ask me how, or why, did you become the leader of L.A. Chapter Hiker Babes, I try to give a short answer. I usually just say I did it because I love hiking and I was offered the role, but what I really want to tell them is how I started running so I could drink more at bars and eat street burritos, and it lead me to be in a national online campaign for an amazing shoe company and a hiking leader for an international community. I know better that it would take too long, though.

Update: Why I Left Hiker Babes

Jazzed About Nature Podcast | Episode 2: Black Girls Trekkin

I decided to sit down and chat with the founders of Black Girls Trekkin about diversity in outdoor communities and how they started their group.

ACCESSIBILITY

You can turn the Closed Captioning on the YouTube video of the podcast below.

Nature And The Outdoors

Me at the Grand Canyon
Making my parents nervous since 1990.
  • I would give them no choice in the matter, and just picked them up and took them somewhere. Especially, the friends who came from that tiny rural town.
  • I paused for a moment and glanced up to see if I would need to dodge any more animals falling from the sky. I was already 13 miles into the 17-mile hike I had planned to do the day before my trek. ‘Damn. I really am out here,’ I thought to myself.
  • I went to see a therapist about my anxiety, and it helped. I started rolling out my yoga mat again and practicing mindfulness meditation. I began paying closer attention to the advice from people I trusted, and while I worked to help educate others and help uplift the voices of the minority, I also worked […]
  • I was already halfway up the mountain when I briefly thought about turning back in my head that made no sense. I was already here on the mountain. I quickly and confidently checked my bag for my throwing knives and figured that I would be alright. I was already in the middle of doing something […]
  • It seems like every year around this time; I take off to help or visit someone. This is the second time I spontaneously decided to drive to Texas, planned a trip overnight, and then flawlessly executed it without skipping a beat.
  • I realized through exploring historical literature from people from all walks of life that there are so many sides to a story. None of them are completely right because each account is told with an inherent bias. No one news source can give you the full picture, and no one person can tell you what […]